... while bulgaria welcomes westernization, traditional ways persist. leaving the cities, we find a land steeped in history, from time-warp villages and donkey carts to fortified monasteries. [ children's choir singing ] high in the mountains 70 miles south of sofia, the rila monastery is the country's revered national treasure. it's a formidable fortress on the outside... a spiritual sanctuary on the inside. [ singing continues ] monasteries were built on remote and holy sights throughout bulgaria. dating from the 10th century, the rila monastery survives, but just barely. a handful of monks keep the flame alive. this 14th-century bell tower, the only part of the original monastery to survive a 19th-century fire, served as a final refuge during attacks. [ rhythmic clacking ] a drumming priest invites pilgrims, both orthodox and tourists, to the daily mass. through the country's medieval glory days, tsars made lavish gifts to rila, and for centuries, top artists made theircontributions. 19th-century frescoes show important portraits. here's saint ivan of rilski, who founded rila in 927..